Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Allergic to Cell Phones? It's Possible.

Aside from the recent media coverage suggesting cell phone use can be carcinogenic, did you know it can also be allergenic?

A recent study published in Dermatitis suggests bilateral symmetrical lesions on the face and thigh from the use of two mobile phones simultaneously are reported as a novel pattern of mobile-phone dermatitis. Phoning for 3 to 4 hours a day and frequently using two mobile phones reveal evidence of nickel release from the metal casings. The number of reports of nickel-induced allergic contact dermatitis from the metallic exterior parts of mobile phones has increased during the last decade.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What's really in a chicken nugget?

If chicken nuggets are your default dinner every time you hit the drive-through with your kids, you’ve probably wondered how healthy they are.

It all starts on a chicken farm.

Usually, only retired egg layers are destined for nugget fame since their meat is dirt cheap. Tendons, tissue, cartilage, organs and other chicken extras are ground up into a fine poultry paste. Because that paste is typically crawling with bacteria, it’s washed with ammonia, and treated with an artificial flavoring. To get rid of the pink color, the paste is dyed.

Doesn’t sound too appetizing, but plenty of kids are making it part of their regular diet and not collapsing, so it can’t all be bad, can it?

“We basically looked at the nuggets like these and determined that they’re 53 percent meat,” said Dr. Bruce Hemming, a microbiologist with Microbe Inotech Laboratories. The St. Louis-based company conducts food-safety audits for the food-services industry.

What about the rest of the nugget?

“Breading and other components make up the coating of the nugget,” Hemming said. “The big issue is the nutritional content here, but you have to talk to a nutritionist.”

Nutritionist Sally Hemming at Microbe Inotech describes a chicken nugget as “half chicken, half nugget, more than half fat.” And that fat is hydrogenated fat, the “bad” fat.

So only half of the nugget is chicken or chicken parts. The other half is not chicken. And remember, half of those calories are coming from fat.

The rule of thumb is that for every 100 calories, look for three grams of fat or less. Most chicken nuggets don’t pass the test, according to information on company websites.

◆ A four-piece serving of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are 190 calories, 100 from fat with 10 grams of protein in a 64-gram serving.

◆ At Chick-fil-A, a four-count Nuggets in the kid’s meal has 130 calories, 54 from the 6 grams of fat it contains with 14 grams of protein in a 57-gram serving.

◆ From the grocery store, a five-piece serving of Tyson’s Chicken Nuggets has 270 calories, 160 from fat with 14 grams of protein in a 90-gram serving.

A top-of-the-line nugget we tested had only 85 percent of the expected value of meat. They’re made up of the worst parts of retired egg layers, ground up, turned into a pink paste, and loaded with fat.

Hemming said a less expensive nugget may contain even less meat. And while she said eating nuggets once a week is acceptable, she suggests looking for nuggets labeled “white meat chicken” since they’re better for you.

By law, the ingredients on a package should be listed by weight and chicken always should be the first ingredient.

Gannett News Service

Care's Corner: Suggested Sports Drinks, Bars

Sports Drinks
Clif Quench
Clif Shot Electrolyte
Greater Than
Vitamin Water Zero
Glaceau Smart Water
Whole Foods 365 Electrolyte Water
Dr. Tim’s ISO coconut water
Lifeway’s BioKefir Shots
4 oz. Orange Juice with 8-12 oz. filtered water are the best of the best in drinks.

Sports Energy Bars
You Bars
Luna Bars
Nutiva Hempseed Bars
Lara Bars
Think Bars
Maya Bars

New Food Pyramid to be announced next week

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the replacement for the Food Pyramid will be announced on June 2 -- and that the new icon heralds a "monumental effort" to improve America's health.

Why a new icon? The pyramid really does not capture the public's attention anymore, Robert C. Post, PhD, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

"Consumers can look forward to a new, simple, easy-to-understand cue to prompt healthy choices," Post says. "You will get this monumental effort across all agencies as well as the private sector. A partnership with the goal of improving the health of all Americans."

The release of the icon marks the launch of a massive effort to promote the USDA/HHS dietary guidelines announced last January.

Bonnie - I am waiting with bated breath (not really).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Abbot's Niaspan/Statin Combo a Dud

Today’s news that an NIH-funded trial of cholesterol drugs ended 18 months early after it found no benefit from Abbott’s Niaspan. The trial, called AIM-HIGH, looked at whether adding Niaspan — a high-dose, extended-release form of niacin, or vitamin B3 — to certain heart-disease patients’ statin drug regimens would prevent more cardiac events than a statin alone. It did not. At this point, the FDA has recommended no change to how the drug is currently used.

Bonnie - because the individuals were also taking statins, this does not mean that Niaspan is ineffective. I would have pitted it against the subjects taking statins!

Must read for women wanting to get pregnant

Women who reported not taking a daily prenatal vitamin immediately before and during the first month of pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder as women who did take the supplements -- and the associated risk rose to seven times as great when combined with a high-risk genetic make-up, according to a study in journal Epidemiology.

Specifically, mothers of children with autism were significantly less likely than those of typically developing children to report having taken prenatal vitamins during the three months before and the first month of pregnancy. It is the first to suggest a concrete step women can take that may reduce the risk of having a child with autism.

Consuming prenatal vitamins may be especially effective for genetically susceptible mothers and their children. This finding appears to be the first example of gene-environment interaction in autism. Researchers collected data from approximately 700 Northern California families with 2- to 5-year-old children who had autism or typical development and were participants in the Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study between from January 2003 to December 2009. If this finding is replicated, it provides an inexpensive, relatively simple evidence-based action that women can take to reduce risks for their child, which is to take prenatal vitamins as early as possible in a pregnancy and even when planning for pregnancy.

Steve - if you are a client or reader of this blog, you know that we advise taking a quality prenatal at least three to six months before you plan to conceive. We will also be publishing a pregnancy data update in our next issue of NCI Well Connect.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More calcium does not mean lower fracture risk

Yet another study that adds to the mounting evidence that taking excess calcium does not help but can definitely hurt. If you are already taking moderate amounts of calcium, increasing it will not lower your risk of osteoporosis or fractures when you are older, according to British Medical Journal.

Of 61,433 Swedish women, the researchers found that those who had been consuming approximately 750mg of calcium per day had the lowest risk of fracture. Those who started having more calcium (than 750mg) over time did not experience any improved risk.

Bonnie - how many more studies do we need to convince the medical community that their across-the-board recommendation of 1200 mg. calcium daily is too much?!
Especially after a new study this week in Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that an increase of calcium deposits at the base of the heart may be associated with covert brain infarcts (silent strokes).

Uneccesary heart screenings do more harm than good

Screening people at low risk for heart disease with a test that detects blocked arteries appears to do more harm than good. Patients found to have evidence of plaque buildup in their arteries after being screened with a test known as a coronary CT angiogram received more medication, follow-up tests and heart procedures than people who hadn’t been screened or those who had a normal test result. Yet more treatment and tests didn’t significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular incidents for these patients after 18 months, researchers reported in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Use of this test in patients without classic symptoms of heart disease can trigger physician behavior which is not actually indicated based on guidelines or evidence.

Bonnie - unnecessary screenings lead to unnecessary medication and further procedures? Unfortunately, this is how our healthcare system works and one of the main reasons why such as huge portion of our GDP goes towards paying for it.

As computer use goes up, reading skills go down

Sweden and the US are two countries in which increased leisure use of computers by children leads to poorer reading ability. This is the conclusion from research carried out at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden among 9-10-year olds. They studied how pupils' reading skills have changed since 1970. Hungary, Italy, the US and Sweden have been included in all of the international comparisons. Reading ability has improved steadily in Italy and Hungary, while it has fallen rapidly since 1991 in both the US and Sweden. During this period, many factors within the school system have changed, as have also society in general and the after-school activities of children in particular. The Swedish and American pupils described a large increase in the use of computers in their free time during this period, while a similar increase was not reported in Hungary or Italy.

The study shows that the entry of computers into the home has contributed to changing children's habits in such a manner that their reading does not develop to the same extent as previously. The frequency of leisure reading and the number of leisure books borrowed from the library have both fallen as computer use in the home has increased.

CDC confirms continued rise in developmental disorders

One in six U.S. children now has a developmental disability such as autism, learning disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much of the bump up in cases seems driven by rising rates of autism and ADHD. The study is published in Pediatrics. The CDC's research correlates with a recent study done in South Korea showing a similar increase.

Bonnie - as shocking is this data is, Big Pharma is licking their chops because it opens up that many more children to medication. However, anyone with a developmental delay diagnosis should read this first:
Study: Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs. Many parents who have children with developmental disorders have already implemented various incarnations of dietary modification. In fact, a study presented at this week's International Meeting for Autism Research exploring the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) showed dietary treatments were the most common (nearly 1 in 5 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are placed on special diets by parents as a potential treatment).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Average # of Potential Side Effects Per Drug: 70

The lists of potential side effects that accompany prescription drugs have ballooned in size, averaging 70 reactions per drug, a number that can overwhelm physicians trying to select suitable treatments for their patients, according to a new study of drug labels. Long lists of drug side effects -- whether found in magazine advertisements or in package inserts -- are a familiar sight to patients and doctors. Now researchers have quantified just how complex drug labels have become. In the study, appearing in the May 23, 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers found that the average label contains 70 different side effects, with more commonly prescribed drugs averaging around 100 side effects. The upper range was remarkably high, with a single label containing as many as 525 reactions. The study involved analysis of more than 5,600 drug labels and more than half a million labeled effects.

Bonnie - given the details of this data, it is painfully obvious that choosing to go on medication should be a "last resort" option.

Kool-Aid to the rescue

Bonnie - this is the lovely new ad campaign from Kool Aid. They probably waited for the FDA's statement that artificial colors have no affect on behavior. Now it is full speed ahead!

This is a perfect example of why advertising junk food to children needs to be reigned in.

Friday, May 20, 2011

One way to address IBS, mental disorders: stop your gut bacteria from behaving badly

For the first time, researchers have conclusive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behavior. The findings, appearing in the journal Gastroenterology, are important because several common types of gastrointestinal disease, including irritable bowel syndrome, are frequently associated with anxiety or depression. In addition there has been speculation that some psychiatric disorders, such as late onset autism, may be associated with an abnormal bacterial content in the gut. For each person, the gut is home to about 1,000 trillion bacteria with which we live in harmony. These bacteria perform a number of functions vital to health: they harvest energy from the diet, protect against infections and provide nutrition to cells in the gut. Any disruption can result in life-threatening conditions, such as antibiotic-induced colitis. The researchers showed that disrupting the normal bacterial content of the gut with antibiotics produced an increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has been linked to depression and anxiety. When oral antibiotics were discontinued, bacteria in the gut returned to normal, and was accompanied by restoration of normal behaviour and brain chemistry.

Cedars-Sinai researchers have also reported an understanding between bacterial overgrowth and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Scientists looked at small bowel cultures to confirm the presence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth -- or SIBO -- in patients with IBS. Of those patients with IBS, 37.5 percent were positive for bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, compared to fewer than 10 percent of those who did not have the disorder.

Steve - these findings further legitimize the results a recent study in Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology showing that taking a combination probiotic that we have recommend for years, containing specific strains of lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus, reduced abdominal bloating by 27 percent after taking twice daily compared to placebo in subjects with IBS. As we have said so many times, probiotics are crucial for normalizing the balance of gut bacteria. The importance cannot be overstated.

Medication Alert

Osteoporosis Medication and Seizures
Use of zoledronic acid (marketed by Novartis under the trade names Zometa, Zomera, Aclasta and Reclast
) for osteoporosis may be associated with seizures, according to three case reports published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. If zoledronic acid, a bisphosphonate injection, is given to older persons with osteoporosis and a history of seizures, you need to ensure an adequate vitamin D and calcium intake. The researchers went on to re-emphasize adequate calcium and vitamin supplementation is mandatory to prevent hypocalcemic episodes that may lower the seizure threshold. Patients prone to hypoglycemic seizures should have their glucose levels checked and eat a light meal before the injection as well.

PPIs Impair Synthroid's Effectiveness
According to Darrell Hulisz, PharmD, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, the product labeling for levothyroxine recommends that it not be simultaneously coadministered with antacids. If concurrent use is necessary, administration of the agents should be separated by 4 hours. The absorption of levothyroxine (Synthroid) is best when exposed to an acidic environment in the gut lumen. PPIs block gut acidity. While it is well-known that calcium antacids such as calcium carbonate or aluminum hydroxide antacids block Synthroid absorption, PPIs effects are not as well-known. If you are required to take PPIs on a long-term basis (specially after six months or more), you may require an increased dose of oral thyroxine, which suggests that normal acid secretion is necessary for effective oral absorption of thyroxine.

PPIs Linked to Fracture Risk Yet Again
Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use is linked to fracture risk, according to a report in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. Risks for any fracture and hip fracture were increased with long-term use of PPIs. Vertebral fracture risk was also increased by 54% with PPI use. In contrast, long-term use of H2RAs was not significantly associated with fracture risk. According to the researchers, widespread use of PPIs with the potential risk of fracture is of great importance to public health. Clinicians should carefully consider their decision to prescribe PPIs for patients already having an elevated risk of fracture because of age or other factors.

Melatonin-Infused Desserts? Bad Idea
Products such as Lazy Cakes, Kush Cakes and Lulla Pies are being sold online and at stores like 7-Eleven and Walgreens. They are marketing their products as a harmless way to promote relaxation and as an antidote for stress and sleep deprivation. They contain roughly 8 milligrams of melatonin per brownie or cookie, which is incredibly high for an individual that may not even have a melatonin deficiency. While melatonin is more “natural” and has far less side effects than the drugs such as Ambien, it is a synthetic hormone and has no place as being marketed as a functional food. We treat melatonin, much like 5-HTP, more like a medication than a dietary supplement.

Statin-Induced Eye Problems
Researchers published a study in American Journal of Medicine in which they found 256 cases of statin-induced eye problems due to muscle weakness in medical reports

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Big Food reveals true colors

Steve - if you were skeptical about Big Food's response to the First Lady's Let's Move campaign to address the obesity epidemic, your hunch was correct.

McDonald's Corp spurned calls to assess the impact of its food on childhood obesity, and said its trademark clown Ronald McDonald would be hawking Happy Meals to kids for years to come. "This is about choice and we believe in the democratic process," Chief Executive Jim Skinner told a packed room at its shareholders' meeting, to an enthusiastic wave of applause. "This is about the personal and individual right to choose."

Steve - does this not sound exactly like Big Tobacco from yesteryear?

Shareholders of the world's largest fast-food chain resoundingly rejected a proposal that would have required it to issue a report outlining its role in the childhood obesity epidemic, saying customers were free to make their own dietary choices.

"Ronald McDonald is an ambassador to McDonald's and he is an ambassador for good. Ronald McDonald is going nowhere," Skinner said firmly, prompting more cheers from shareholders. Among the dissenters at the meeting was Dr. Donald Zeigler, director of Prevention and Health Lifestyles at the American Medical Association, who asked when the burger chain will stop marketing to children using Ronald McDonald. Zeigler, who is also visiting assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center, was one of 550 healthcare professionals who had signed an open letter to McDonald's pleading that it "stop making the next generation sick." On Tuesday, a watchdog group placed ads in newspapers across the country calling for McDonald's to stop marketing to children through the clown, toy giveaways and other tactics.

McDonald's shares have gained nearly 12 percent in the last four months and rallied to a record high of $82.63 on Thursday. But as experts point out, obese children often grow into obese adults, overburdening the entire healthcare system. Ironically, Miles White, chairman and chief executive of diversified healthcare company Abbott Laboratories, has been a director of the McDonald's board since 2009. Abbott makes a broad range of drugs, including cholesterol-lowering statins, and medical devices, such as heart stents used on patients with clogged arteries.

Steve - would I be going out on a limb to assume that if McDonald's offered a healthy menu at their current pricing, many more parents would choose the healthier fare?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Watermelon "Land Mines"

Steve - this is one of the more unusual reports I've seen.

Courtesy of Associated Press

Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of “land mines.”

About 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres (45 hectares) of melon, China Central Television said in an investigative report.

Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said.

Chinese regulations don’t forbid the drug, and it is allowed in the U.S. on kiwi fruit and grapes. But the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers.

Wang Liangju, a professor with College of Horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University who has been to Danyang since the problems began to occur, said that forchlorfenuron is safe and effective when used properly.

He told The Associated Press that the drug had been used too late into the season, and that recent heavy rain also raised the risk of the fruit cracking open. But he said the variety of melon also played a role.

“If it had been used on very young fruit, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Wang said. “Another reason is that the melon they were planting is a thin-rind variety and these kind are actually nicknamed the ‘exploding melon’ because they tend to split.”

Farmer Liu Mingsuo ended up with eight acres (three hectares) of ruined fruit and told CCTV that seeing his crop splitting open was like a knife cutting his heart.

“On May 7, I came out and counted 80 (burst watermelons) but by the afternoon it was 100,” Liu said. “Two days later I didn’t bother to count anymore.”

Intact watermelons were being sold at a wholesale market in nearby Shanghai, the report said, but even those ones showed telltale signs of forchlorfenuron use: fibrous, misshapen fruit with mostly white instead of black seeds.

In March last year, Chinese authorities found that “yard-long” beans from the southern city of Sanya had been treated with the banned pesticide isocarbophos. The tainted beans turned up in several provinces, and the central city of Wuhan announced it destroyed 3.5 tons of the vegetable.

The government also has voiced alarm over the widespread overuse of food additives like dyes and sweeteners that retailers hope will make food more attractive and boost sales.

Though Chinese media remain under strict government control, domestic coverage of food safety scandals has become more aggressive in recent months, an apparent sign that the government has realized it needs help policing the troubled food industry.

The CCTV report on watermelons quoted Feng Shuangqing, a professor at the China Agricultural University, as saying the problem showed that China needs to clarify its farm chemical standards and supervision to protect consumer health.

The broadcaster described the watermelons as “land mines” and said they were exploding by the acre (hectare) in the Danyang area.

Many of farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit and feeding it to fish and pigs, the report said.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fortified Splenda?

Bonnie - just when you think you've heard it all.

McNeil Nutritionals has introduced new Splenda Essentials no-calorie sweetener products. The new line of products from the Splenda brand includes Splenda Essentials no-calorie sweetener with B vitamins and Splenda Essentials no-calorie sweetener with antioxidants. "We're thrilled to launch the new Splenda Essentials sweetener product line, giving consumers an entire line of products that offer additional nutritional benefits, like B vitamins to help support a healthy metabolism," said Fred Tewell, group product director for Splenda sweetener products. "Consumers may not focus on getting all their recommended vitamins in a day, but they never forget to sweeten their coffee — these products are all about helping people make small, good-for-you choices each day so that they can get closer to meeting their health goals."

The diet that shook up tennis

How an average player credits a gluten-free diet for becoming the best in the world.


Childhood Obesity Risk: Two Major Contributors

Babies who are bottle-fed until the age of two are 30% more likely to be obese when they start school, according to the Journal of Pediatrics. Data from nearly 7,000 children across the United States showed that bottle-feeding can make babies consume too many calories. The researchers suggest that parents should be encouraged to stop using a bottle by the child's first birthday because of the risk of over-feeding.

A new study from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains maternal weight gain in pregnancy and its potential long-term effects on offspring adiposity. The huge sibling study showed that in normal-weight mothers, most of the association between maternal weight gain and later offspring BMI is explained by shared familial (genetic and early environmental) characteristics, whereas evidence indicates a contribution of intrauterine mechanisms in overweight and obese women.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another study confirms fruit, veggie allergy issue

In a recent Journey of Allergy and Clinical Immunology study, allergen-specific IgE levels against food and inhalant allergens were obtained from blood samples collected at age 8 years in 2447 children. In analyses of individual foods, intake of apples/pears and carrots was inversely associated with rhinitis, asthma, and atopic sensitization. Fifty percent of the children with rhinitis were sensitized against birch pollen, which cross-reacts with apples and carrots.

Bonnie - adding this to the mounting evidence proving that there are numerous cross-reactive foods that must be avoided during the height of the allergy season.

Autism Rate Much Higher: study

A study in South Korea suggests about 1 in 38 children have traits of autism, higher than a previous U.S. estimate of 1 in 110. By casting a wider net and looking closely at mainstream children, the researchers expected to find a higher rate of autism characteristics. But they were surprised at how high the rate was. Their hypothesis is that autism often goes undiagnosed in many nations.

Two-thirds of the children with autism traits in the study were in the mainstream school population, hadn't been diagnosed before and weren't getting any special services. It's not clear whether the children need special services or not, other experts said. The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health provided some funding for the study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, surveyed 36,000 schoolchildren, ages 7 to 12 over five years. The questionnaire used is a recognized screening tool for high-functioning autism such as Asperger's syndrome. It asks such questions as whether the child "stands out as different" in a number of ways, including lacking empathy, lacking best friends and being bullied by other children. About 2.6 percent of the population had some autism traits.

1 in 38 children is is a sobering statistic. If it is this high in South Korea, it is almost certainly higher in the U.S. We explore some of the most recent data and tips in this week's issue of NCI Well Connect. Click here for more information about how to subscribe.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Truvia moves to #2, but there's a problem

The Truvia® brand now ranks as the number two sugar substitute in the U.S. with a 12.8 percent share at retail within the sugar substitute category. Truvia® has achieved this milestone after just over two years on the market, surpassing Merisant's Equal® (aspartame) for the past 16 months and the 52 year-old brand, Cumberland's Sweet'N Low® for the past 12 weeks. Splenda® (Sucralose) is number one.

Bonnie - while we are encouraged that Truvia (which contains stevia and erythritol) is beating far more unhealthy brands, Truvia is not the "end-all-be-all." Regardless of what Cargill claims, erythritol is a corn-based artificial sweetener that can cause digestive distress. I've had many clients tell me this over the last few years. Cargill could not release a pure stevia product because they needed something that tastes more like Splenda and Equal. Hence, the addition of erythritol. The other issue is that Cargill gets most of its stevia from China, where quality control is a major issue.

We continue to exclusively recommend the Sweet Leaf brand because it is stevia only and comes from Paraguay, where the herb originated.

The other non-caloric alternative we prefer is Emerald Forest Xylitol, which comes from birch bark, not corn.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bad Cholesterol Not So Evil

The so-called "bad cholesterol" -- low-density lipoprotein commonly called LDL -- may not be so bad after all, shows a Texas A&M University study that casts new light on the cholesterol debate, particularly among adults who exercise. Steve Riechman, a researcher in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, says the study reveals that LDL is not the evil Darth Vader of health it has been made out to be in recent years and that new attitudes need to be adopted in regards to the substance. His work, with help from colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, Kent State University, the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, is published in the Journal of Gerontology.

Riechman and colleagues examined 52 adults from ages to 60 to 69 who were in generally good health but not physically active, and none of them were participating in a training program. The study showed that after fairly vigorous workouts, participants who had gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, "a very unexpected result and one that surprised us."

"It shows that you do need a certain amount of LDL to gain more muscle mass. There's no doubt you need both -- the LDL and the HDL -- and the truth is, it (cholesterol) is all good. You simply can't remove all the 'bad' cholesterol from your body without serious problems occurring." Cholesterol is found in all humans and is a type of fat around the body. A person's total cholesterol level comprises LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL is almost always referred to as the 'bad' cholesterol because it tends to build up in the walls of arteries, causing a slowing of the blood flow which often leads to heart disease and heart attacks. HDL, usually called the "good cholesterol," often helps remove cholesterol from arteries.

"But here is where people tend to get things wrong," Riechman says. "LDL serves a very useful purpose. It acts as a warning sign that something is wrong and it signals the body to these warning signs. It does its job the way it is supposed to. "People often say, 'I want to get rid of all my bad (LDL) cholesterol,' but the fact is, if you did so, you would die," the Texas A&M professor adds. "Everyone needs a certain amount of both LDL and HDL in their bodies. We need to change this idea of LDL always being the evil thing -- we all need it, and we need it to do its job."

According to the American Heart Association, about 36 million American adults have high cholesterol levels. "Our tissues need cholesterol, and LDL delivers it," he notes. "HDL, the good cholesterol, cleans up after the repair is done. And the more LDL you have in your blood, the better you are able to build muscle during resistance training."

"The bottom line is that LDL -- the bad cholesterol -- serves as a reminder that something is wrong and we need to find out what it is," Riechman says. "It gives us warning signs. Is smoking the problem, is it diet, is it lack of exercise that a person's cholesterol is too high? It plays a very useful role, does the job it was intended to do, and we need to back off by always calling it 'bad' cholesterol because it is not totally bad."

Bonnie - finally, a researcher who understands LDL! I can guarantee that he is not paid by the makers of statin drugs.

Painkillers in your pantry

Believe it or not, we found this in AARP the Magazine.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Caffeine in coffee: "healthy antioxidant"

Scientists are reporting an in-depth analysis of how the caffeine in coffee, tea, and other foods seems to protect against conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and heart disease on the most fundamental levels. The report, which describes the chemistry behind caffeine's antioxidant effects, appears in ACS' The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The researchers describe evidence suggesting that coffee is one of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants in the average person's diet. Some of the newest research points to caffeine (also present in tea, cocoa, and other foods) as the source of powerful antioxidant effects that may help protect people from Alzheimer's and other diseases. However, scientists know little about exactly how caffeine works in scavenging the so-called free radicals that have damaging effects in the body. The researchers presented detailed theoretical calculations on caffeine's interactions with free radicals, showing excellent consistency with the results that other scientists, bolstering the likelihood that caffeine is, indeed, a source of healthful antioxidant activity in coffee.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

USDA program to give GMOs carte "blanche"

The USDA has started a new program that makes it even easier for genetically engineered organisms to become deregulated—by having the corporations themselves provide all the documentation and analysis. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for granting or denying petitions from companies to deregulate genetically engineered organisms. Now APHIS has announced a two-year program called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Pilot Project.

Currently, APHIS prepares an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to show what impact a GE food or organism might have on the environment, to help determine whether it should be regulated or not. The petitioner requesting deregulated status (Monsanto, for example) has to submit specific information, but it is up to the APHIS to prepare the environmental documents and analyze all the info. Under this new program, the petitioners will submit the environmental documents and analysis themselves. The Monsantos of the world can give the USDA all the environmental “analysis” necessary to support their own case—removing objectivity entirely from the process.

Furthermore, instead of APHIS taking the analysis and developing an EA or EIS, an outside contractor will prepare the EIS—but the petitioner will provide the funds for it. This is another outrageous conflict of interest: petitioners will be providing the funds to support their own studies to determine the outcome of their own case. Would we trust a sugar company to fund a report on whether sugar causes cavities in teeth?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Vitamin C helps the heart

According to the medical director for complementary and alternative medicine for the Alexian Brothers Hospital Network, Patrick B. Massey, M.D., Ph.D, is the answer is yes. Costs for treating Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) exceed $36 billion nationally, and, when severe, significantly reduces the quality of life for many people. One of the causes is believed to be excessive oxidative stress on the heart muscles. Oxidation damages the heart muscles and reduces the ability of the heart to pump blood through the body. It has been suggested that the use of antioxidants could reduce oxidative stress and ultimately help the heart to work better.

In patients with mild to moderate CHF, patients underwent heart catheterization and heart function were measured. One important measure was contractility, or how strongly the heart pumps blood. Contractility was measured before and after 2 grams of vitamin C were infused into the heart. After the infusion, the heart was able to work 20 percent better than before the vitamin C. For someone with CHF, such an increase is a remarkable improvement in function.

In another study published in the May Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers examined the relationship between vitamin C status and vascular dysfunction in healthy, college-aged lean and obese men with no history of dietary supplementation. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was measured to determine vascular endothelial function. Plasma antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and thiols), inflammatory proteins (C-reactive protein [CRP], myeloperoxidase [MPO], and cytokines), and cellular adhesion molecules were measured. FMD was 21% lower in obese men. They also had 51% lower vitamin C intakes and 38% lower plasma vitamin C concentrations. Obese men had greater plasma concentrations of CRP, MPO, inflammatory cytokines, and cellular adhesion molecules.

The data suggest that low vitamin C status is associated with proinflammatory responses and impaired vascular function in lean and obese men. Additional study is warranted to determine whether improving dietary vitamin C intakes from food attenuate vascular dysfunction.

Bonnie - while the ADA is slow to suggest supplementation, in young, obese men, adding vitamin C supplements would definitely be warranted.

Fatty acid intakes of children and adolescents are not in line with the dietary intake recommendations for future cardiovascular health

Fatty acid composition of the diet may influence cardiovascular risk from early childhood onwards. This study was to perform a systematic review of dietary fat and fatty acid intakes in children and adolescents from different countries around the world and compare these with the population nutrient intake goals for prevention of chronic diseases as defined by the World Health Organization.

Fatty acid intake data from thirty countries (mainly from developed countries) were included. In twenty-eight of the thirty countries, mean Saturated Fatty Acid intakes were higher than the recommended maximum of 10% energy, whereas in twenty-one out of thirty countries mean Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid intakes were below recommended (6–10% energy).

The available data clearly indicate that in the majority of the countries providing data on fatty acid intake, less than half of the children and adolescents meet the SFA and PUFA intake goals that are recommended for the prevention of chronic diseases. British Journal of Nutrition, May 2011

Soy has hormonal effect in kids: Japanese study

In the May, 2011 issue of American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers investigated whether soy intake is associated with sex steroid levels in Japanese children. This cross-sectional study was conducted in autumn 2006. Subjects were substantially healthy preschoolers, 230 boys and 198 girls, aged 3–6 years. Dietary data, including soy intake, were assessed using 3-day dietary records. Urinary estrone, estradiol, testosterone, and 5-androstene-3β,17α diol levels measured using liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry, and urinary dehydroepiandrosterone level measured with a radioimmunoassay, were adjusted for urinary creatinine levels. In the analysis of covariance for sex steroids after adjustments for age and body mass index, soy intake was significantly negatively related to estrone and estradiol in boys and positively related to testosterone and 5-androstene-3β,17α diol in girls. Isoflavone had a significant tendency to be negatively associated with estradiol in boys and to be positively associated with testosterone in girls. Total energy intake was not associated with any sex steroids in boys or girls. These results suggest that soy intake might affect the secretion or metabolism of sex steroids in childhood and that the effects might differ by sex.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Soft drink makers lobby to continue being food stamp options

To Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, it seemed like a sensible way to attack a major public health problem. To the soft drink industry, giant food companies, makers of snacks and candy, supermarkets, and antihunger groups, it seemed like an attack at the grocery checkout counter. The mayor wants to reduce obesity and diabetes by banning the use of food stamps to buy “sugar-sweetened beverages” in New York City. Food and beverage lobbyists see the mayor’s plan as a well-intentioned but misguided and paternalistic effort. They say it would create a logistical bottleneck at checkout counters and stigmatize poor people using food stamps. They also fear that restrictions on soft drinks would set a precedent for the government to distinguish between good and bad foods and to ban the use of food stamps for other products — an issue sure to come up next year in the Congressional debate on a new farm bill.

New York officials estimate that $75 million to $135 million in food stamp benefits are spent on sugar-sweetened beverages in the city each year. Such beverages, they say, are the single largest contributor to the obesity epidemic. City officials noted that federal policy already bans the sale of soft drinks in school lunch programs across the country. The mayor’s proposal would go further by banning the use of food stamps to buy carbonated and noncarbonated beverages that are sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup and have more than 10 calories per eight-ounce serving. Food stamp benefits are paid for entirely by the federal government, and the city is seeking permission from the Agriculture Department to test its proposal in a two-year project.

Steve - should we be surprised by the soft drinks companies' actions? No. As a taxpayer and expert in the nutritional field, I do not feel that my tax dollars should be contributing to the obesity epidemic. For people who need food assistance, the last thing they need are empty calories that are known contributors to multiple diseases. How do you feel about what mayor Bloomberg is trying to do?

With liposuction, the belly finds what the thighs lose

In an unfortunate development for those seeking or have had these procedures, this NYT piece exposes an unexpected consequence of liposuction. I wonder if any of you who have gotten this done have had a similar issue?

Low fat dairy does nothing for weight loss

According to a study published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, kids who swap out regular dairy products for low-fat forms consume less saturated fat but don't lose weight. Researchers found neither weight nor body mass index (BMI) had changed noticeably six months after children switched to low- or reduced-fat dairy products. Instead of trimming their waistlines, kids who slashed fat intake appeared to compensate by eating more calories from other sources.

The researchers asked one group to replace their dairy products with low-fat varieties for six months, while the other got no dietary advice. Both groups consumed similar amounts of dairy products, and the total calorie intake remained more or less stable over the study, which was supported in part by Dairy Australia. The low-fat group did consume less overall fat. At the end of the study, they got 13.3% of their total calories from saturated fat, compared to 16.6% in the comparison group. Their waistlines, BMI and weight were no different.

Bonnie - this study was even sponsored by Australia's dairy foundation, who had ever incentive for the study to show weight-loss.